Detroit Red Wings presented by AT&T
2015-16 Ticket Plans Available Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Optimism is high as Wings head to camp

Depth up front, improved defense will help Red Wings contend in Eastern Conference

Tuesday, 09.10.2013 / 9:56 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
Share with your Friends

Optimism is high as Wings head to camp
The young Red Wings did a lot of growing up last season, qualifying for the playoffs in the last day of the regular season. They also played in two Game 7s in the postseason. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Eight months ago, prognosticators predicted the demise of the Red Wings as they set sail on an uncharted course. It was the first time in 20 seasons that the Wings were going to be without all-everything defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, and many believed his retirement would prove costly.

Since 1992, the Red Wings counted on Lidstrom to lock down the blue line, but without the greatest European-trained player in league history, it was expected that Detroit’s team would struggle to extend its 21 consecutive playoff appearances. The Wings also lost another valuable piece to the defense when Brad Stuart decided to sign with San Jose.

Without Lidstrom and Stuart there wasn’t much optimism as the Wings entered their abbreviated training camp following the NHL lockout last January. How would the Wings defense be without their stalwarts?

Early season injuries compounded the Wings’ defensive problems. Then came the surprise that nobody predicted. Unproven youngsters like Brian Lashoff, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and the emergence of undrafted rookie free agent Danny DeKeyser played significant minutes and made big contributions as the team qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 22nd straight season.

Now, as teams open training camps this week, some of the same forecasters like the Red Wings for their additions of forward Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss in the off-season. Obviously, the guys in the Wings locker room like the acquisitions, too, but it’s the development of the young guys on defense, as well as up front, they like most.

“There's a lot of positive stuff that's surrounding us right now,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Last year in the playoffs the young guys got a lot of experience playing in two Game 7s in hostile environments. Danny coming in was a little unknown. He was a heralded college player. You heard about him, how big he was and how smooth a skater and passer he was, but I think him coming in, it was sort of ‘What are we going to get?’ He stepped in and played tremendously for us. I remember after the first game saying, ‘Wow, this kid's legit.’ Smitty, same way, he stepped right in and started playing big minutes for us. He really grew as a player throughout the year. Kindl had probably his best year as a professional.”

Optimism is riding high in Hockeytown, and not just because of the arrival of Alfredsson and Weiss. The franchise is encouraged by the development of the young players in Grand Rapids. The Griffins captured the AHL’s Calder Cup last spring, and on Monday, a group of youngsters won the prospects tournament in Traverse City.

Granted, much of this year’s optimism is heaped upon Alfredsson and Weiss, who, along with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, will give the Red Wings a much needed scoring punch, something the team lacked last season after finishing among the top 10 in league scoring the previous two campaigns. Moving to the Eastern Conference, the Wings, who averaged 2.54 goals in 2013, will need to average three goals a game.

“The additions of Weisser and Alfie are really going to help us,” Howard said. “Gives us a great No. 2 centerman. Alfie's going to be great on the power play for us. Gives us another weapon, possibly free up Pav and Z a little more. It's exciting time of year. I'm looking forward to getting through training camp and starting Oct. 2.”

The Wings enter this season feeling much more confident in their young defense. Last season, the Wings were fifth in the league in goals-allowed, surrendering 2.29 goals per game. Only Chicago, Ottawa, Boston and the New York Rangers allowed fewer.

Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will be the top defensive pairing with Kindl, Smith and Kyle Quincey challenging for spots three through five at training camp. Lashoff and DeKeyser are likely to battle for the No. 6 defensive role on the roster.

While the future seems bright, Wings coach Mike Babcock prefers to view the team’s defense a little more cautiously.

“I had no idea Smith and DeKeyser and Kindl could do what they do,” Babcock said. “Smith and DeKeyser are in their second year, so are they going to fall off the face of the earth or be like they're capable of being? That's going to determine lots of what happens around here.”

The youth movement isn’t just on defense. Several young players should play key offensive roles this season. Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar could be impactful while pushing some of the veterans in camp this week. Guys like Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi know that with 16 forwards competing in camp this week, the team’s landscape is changing.

“It’s a full out tryout training camp for a lot of people, excluding Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Weiss and if I don’t say Mule he’ll be pissed off … so Mule,” Bertuzzi said. “There’s jobs to be had and jobs to lose. You have to go into camp and you have to play for a spot. It’s not like the old days when you pretty much know where you’re stationed. You have to earn your spot.”

It’s that depth and experience that has the Red Wings optimistic.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Site Map